Health Department’s breastfeeding educators provide array of support

From right, Cary Allen, Elizabeth Sedita-Laufer and Jolene Croxell, all certified breastfeeding educators at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, visit with a Lawrence mom during a meeting of the breastfeeding support group — B.I.B.S. — on Aug. 1, 2013.

From right, Cary Allen, Elizabeth Sedita-Laufer and Jolene Croxell, all certified breastfeeding educators at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, visit with a Lawrence mom during a meeting of the breastfeeding support group — B.I.B.S. — on Aug. 1, 2013. by Karrey Britt

Jolene Croxell, supervisor of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, earned certification as a breastfeeding educator after completing a three-day workshop this month in Oklahoma City.

The Health Department now has six certified breastfeeding educators. The others are Cary Allen, Mandy Gwirtz, Linda Rippetoe, Elizabeth Sedita-Laufer and Trish Unruh.

Research has found significant benefits of breastfeeding, which include protection against childhood infections, diabetes, liver disease, certain types of cancers, allergies, immune system disorders and sudden infant death syndrome. Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced incidence of breast cancer and osteoporosis.

Mothers often explain that they initiate breastfeeding because of the benefits for their baby, but they continue breastfeeding because they enjoy a special closeness with their babies.

As breastfeeding becomes more popular, mothers look to health care providers for assistance. Traditional mother-to-daughter teaching and assistance is less available because there is a generation of grandmothers who primarily fed their babies with formula. Additionally, families often reside farther a part, which decreases assistance to new mothers.

“Practical assistance from knowledgeable health care providers is critical to get breastfeeding off to a good start,” said Deb Bocar, an international board certified lactation consultant. “Experts must also be available for telephone assistance, home health care, and outpatient consultations to assist mothers with common challenges during the first few weeks.”

The Health Department offers breastfeeding support services such as: one-on-one counseling, telephone consultations, home visits, a breast pump program and referrals to resources. It also hosts a weekly support group — called Breast Is Best Social or B.I.B.S. — at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the Health Department, 200 Maine St., in the clinic waiting area.

For more information about breastfeeding support, visit the Health Department’s website — ldchealth.org — and click on Services or call 843-0721.

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